Feeds

'Secure' PayPal page is... you guessed it

Extended SSL no match for the power of XSS

Build a business case: developing custom apps

A serious scripting error has been discovered on PayPal that could enable attackers to create convincing spoof pages that steal users' authentication credentials..

The cross-site scripting bug is made all the more critical because it resides on a page that uses an extended validation secure sockets layer certificate. The new-fangled SSL mechanism is designed to give users a higher degree of confidence that the page they're visiting is secure by turning their browser address bar green.

But Finnish researcher Harry Sintonen figured out a way to inject his own code into a supposedly protected PayPal page even as the green bar lulled visitors into believing it hadn't been tampered with. Sintonen's code simply caused an Internet Explorer alert window to open with the words "Is it safe?" as evidenced by the screenshot below.

Screenshot showing PayPay XSS vulnerability

During an online interview, he demonstrated a page that prompted users for their account credentials and then sent them to an unauthorized server, and he said it would be possible for him to steal user cookies as well. All the while, the address bar would bear the PayPal URL in green. At time of publication, eBay had not yet removed the buggy code.

A statement from PayPal said the company considers user security a top priority. "As soon as we were informed of this exploit, we began working very quickly to shut it down," the statement read. "To our knowledge, this exploit was not used in any phishing attacks". Unauthorized withdrawals or purchases made on PayPal accounts are fully reimbursed.

The discovery is one more reason to remain skeptical of extended validation SSL, which has always struck us as a solution in search of a problem. Yes, we know it's supposed to close a loophole that's long existed in SSL by certifying, in this case for example, that it is eBay (the parent company of PayPal) that owns the SSL certificate for the specific PayPal page. But we've not yet heard of a single attack involving a forged certificate, so we're tempted to think the measure is more gimmick designed to generate revenue for VeriSign and its competitors than anything else.

eBay security pros seem to have drunk the EV SSL Kool Aid, however, having announced recently (PDF alert) that browsers that don't support the new standard aren't welcome on the PayPal site.

XSS vulnerabilities have emerged as one of the easier and more common ways to subvert website security measures. They use manipulated URLs to get around the so-called same-origin policy, which prevents cookies and other types of content set by one domain from being accessed or manipulated by a different address.

Despite the proliferation of XSS attacks, McAfee's ScanAlert, which provides daily audits of ecommerce websites to certify them "Hacker Safe," gives clients the thumbs up even when XSS vulnerabilities are discovered on their pages. ®

Endpoint data privacy in the cloud is easier than you think

More from The Register

next story
14 antivirus apps found to have security problems
Vendors just don't care, says researcher, after finding basic boo-boos in security software
Microsoft's Euro cloud darkens: US FEDS can dig into foreign servers
They're not emails, they're business records, says court
'Things' on the Internet-of-things have 25 vulnerabilities apiece
Leaking sprinklers, overheated thermostats and picked locks all online
iWallet: No BONKING PLEASE, we're Apple
BLE-ding iPhones, not NFC bonkers, will drive trend - marketeers
Multipath TCP speeds up the internet so much that security breaks
Black Hat research says proposed protocol will bork network probes, flummox firewalls
Only '3% of web servers in top corps' fully fixed after Heartbleed snafu
Just slapping a patched OpenSSL on a machine ain't going to cut it, we're told
Plug and PREY: Hackers reprogram USB drives to silently infect PCs
BadUSB instructs gadget chips to inject key-presses, redirect net traffic and more
How long is too long to wait for a security fix?
Synology finally patches OpenSSL bugs in Trevor's NAS
prev story

Whitepapers

7 Elements of Radically Simple OS Migration
Avoid the typical headaches of OS migration during your next project by learning about 7 elements of radically simple OS migration.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Solving today's distributed Big Data backup challenges
Enable IT efficiency and allow a firm to access and reuse corporate information for competitive advantage, ultimately changing business outcomes.
A new approach to endpoint data protection
What is the best way to ensure comprehensive visibility, management, and control of information on both company-owned and employee-owned devices?